Kids can be very challenging in the classroom, and even the most cooperative kids can get fidgety when they’re facing a subject that has a reputation for being boring. I teach history, which is often thought of as one of the most boring subjects of all. I love history, but getting that passion across to uninterested kids isn’t always easy. This year, I had a new curriculum, which made my job a little more challenging than usual. I had to come up with two separate social studies lesson plans, instead of just blending them into one. To get some ideas, I went online and looked up world history lesson plans and civil war lesson plans. I found a website that covered all of these and more. At first, I thought it was merely convenient, but it turned out to be even more beneficial than I anticipated.
The social studies lesson plans I found were awesome. They used interactive games, crossword puzzles, video reenactments of famous speeches, PowerPoint presentations, and more. After finding these plans, I could barely wait to get back into the classroom and try them out. The plans wisely utilized concepts that all kids love, mainly games and television. I have always thought that presidential speeches were very important reflections of the times, but getting kids to understand that is challenging. Seeing the reenacted speeches is far more stimulating than reading textbook versions, and this helped the kids comprehend their relevance within a historical context. We had question and answer sessions afterwards, and I saw an immediate improvement in their understanding of the underlying principles and the effect on the world at a given time.
I also used the crosswords puzzles to create friendly competition and teamwork. Once a week, I divided the class into teams and gave each team a crossword puzzle to work out. The first team to correctly complete the puzzle was able to forfeit homework that night, and each team worked very hard to be the winner. Naturally, I made sure that each team had a chance with an “easier” puzzle each week to ensure that they all got a night off from homework. On Fridays, after they completed their weekly test, we dedicated the rest of the period to playing the interactive games provided by the world history lesson plans I had found. The first time I incorporated this new activity, they flew through the test so quickly that I was worried I’d made a mistake, but the test scores proved me wrong. Not one kid made less than a B on the tests.
I intend to use these new world history lesson plans and civil war lesson plans in my classroom next year as well, because I’ve never seen anything else stimulate the kids the way that they have. My kids this year are having an absolute blast in the classroom. They are learning more, and learning faster, than they ever have in previous years, and what’s even more important is they’re having fun while they’re doing it. They no longer remember that history is a subject that previously bored them. Now, they consider my history class to be one of their favorites. Some have even expressed an interest in becoming history teachers one day! Aside from improved test scores, I find satisfaction and reward in the response I get from the parents when they call to thank me for getting their kids interested, at last, in history. I’m so glad I found such comprehensive, interactive social studies lesson plans.
Written by Kelly Sparks.